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Japanese counting in karate

In most Karate styles, techniques are performed ten times, and it is common use in dojos all over the world to count in Japanese. Just like the bowing, counting in Japanese is a characteristic of Karate.

As a student, you should learn to count in Japanese out loud too, because the time will come when you are giving commands to fellow students (or because you have become a Karate instructor yourself), so you better know how to count in the way Sensei does. Students are familiar to his type of counting in Japanese and will be less startled or giggly if they hear the commands in a familiar way.

bowing in karate

Learn Counting in Japanese Ichi, Ni, San… from 1 to 100

Counting and demonstrating

As an instructor, you will find that Japanese counting, performing a technique, and watching your students at the same time is quite demanding and can get you puffed and out of breath in no time.

Important points here: Do the techniques slowly, and count BEFORE you do the techniques. Your students are conditioned to do the technique when they hear the command. Thus, you must not start yourself with your own technique until you have completed the command.

Doing a repetition of 10 techniques is not a race against the clock. You won’t win a medal for rushing through it quickly. The slower you do it, the more people can concentrate on doing each individual technique with power, speed and precision. THAT is what you want to teach them, not to have them rush through it, leaving you breathless in the process.

21 comments about “Japanese counting in karate”

  1. Emily said:

    um i just started to take Acito and i love it but on this site you dont really tell how to count to ten in japanese but whatever i know how to count to six!!! ok well ttyl

  2. Genelle said:

    I love this site my 2 children take karate and i’m so fascinated with the whole exeprience. Your site tells me everything i need to know and more. I love the counting tips. Keep up the great work!!!!!

  3. Becky said:

    Your site has really helped me, we do have a local tai-kwan-do in our town, but I dont’ need to learn everything there is. Like I’m afraid I waited way too long to start karate and so if I joined now I would be stuck with a bunch of 5 year olds in their first year.

    I also wasn’t comfortable with the competition idea either. I’ve only been taking these lessons for a day and I feel like I know so much already. Thankyou :D Your site has really helped…but man am I sore. haha, I used to be in gymnastics and I used to be so flexible, but I am totally outta shape and I do the warmups like a lot. I wanna buy a staff after I get a job and get money and start practicing with that, they have always amazed me.

  4. Mike said:

    Counting in karate is a very effective tool in teaching less-experienced students patience. In addition, it also allows the sensei to view every student individualy, and for these reasons, is a wonderful tool that SHOULD be used in class.

    With all that being said, it is also important that the karate-ka pratice the kata full speed, all together, as well as slowly and broken apart.

    This allows the students to truly practice the form, while they can still do the form slowly in order to gain knowledge about what it is they are doing.

  5. james strauch said:

    I use counting in lessons not only to break up kata but also to teach basics.

    I find by breaking up kata it gives students the chance to get every technique spot on, and i have noticed the improvments they make themselves, every technique is now preformed with a slight pause betwen every sequence and i must say it makes the kata’s look fantastic.

    great website! thanks it has helped me a lot in the past.

  6. Victoria said:

    I have just come apon this wonderous site and realized something extremely odd. That odd something is that there are more people that say 7 as shichi then the people (like myself) that say 7 as nana.(I’m just a person passing by and wanting to inform you of this mysterious something!)

  7. Kaito said:

    Actual spelling is hyaku not hiyaku

    hya and hiya have entirely different pronunciations.
    They are written with the same characters, but are written differently. (character for ya is small)
    ひゃ = hya
    ひや = hiya (word means cold water/sake)

    I don’t do karate, but I do speak fluent Japanese, and trust me there is a difference.

    also here are the accurate spellings for numbers 1-10, 100, 1000, 10,000 plus a few irregulars
    1 ichi
    2 ni
    3 san
    4 shi / yon
    5 go
    6 roku
    7 shichi / nana
    8 hachi
    9 kyuu
    10 juu
    100 hyaku
    1,000 sen
    10,000 man

    300 = sanbyaku
    600 = roppyaku
    800 = happyaku

  8. maddie alberga said:

    hey cool site im starting karate and the counting realy does help :)

  9. Niniachan said:

    We count all the time in class, up to fifty at times…our instructor has us count 1231, 1232, 1233, 1234, etc. so we do more than we are counting…though she has us count sometimes in english, other times in Korean.

  10. Diana said:

    I’m impresed! In my first Karate lesson I learned so much things ohhhhhhh, I can’t tell how much things I learned!

  11. Diana said:

    Hey guys, sory that I didn’t tell you last time but I thank you, thank you,thank you!!!:)you helped me so much!

  12. Jade said:

    Hi, I do karate and have been for about 8 montsh now. about 3 months ago my karate teacher stopped doing karate but just 3 days ago we did our first training in a while. I was about to get my first belt but i didnt so now im starting all over again! i just want to say that everything (well almost) has given me some information about something. thank you for this cool website and i havent really looked on everything but maybe you could do a page on how to count in japanese coz thats the reason im on here!!! but im glad im doing my homework for once! bye and thankyou again.!!!!!

  13. tom said:

    Hi I’m a black belt and have been doing karate for 6 years but this web site does’nt really help you need to put on a bigger range of info.

  14. Sempi Conor said:

    this site doen’t tellu how to count in japanese.

    i do karate and am a sempi in it and i know how to count to 100.

    im going for black in oct and have been doing karate for about 8 years. more than half me life.

  15. Kamikaze said:

    Martial Arts rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. BAAKO JOYCE said:

    woooow your doing agreat thing

  17. shendo goju-ryu said:

    if you want to count to ten to japanese i will teach you. it goes ichi, ni, san shi, go, roku, nana, hachi, ku, jyu.

  18. sarah said:

    hehe ya i didn’t see where it said how to count in japanese, good thing i already know how! (I just don’t know if i can spell it right.)
    Each
    Knee
    Sun
    She
    Go
    Rocco
    Seigi
    Hatchi
    Ku
    Ju

    woohoo!

  19. samurai sword said:

    This is a great article. This will really help me in the future. I just started reading all the blogs – this one is great! I will bookmark it.
    Thakns.
    Mike, the sword guy.

  20. Tamara said:

    i take karate and i love it a lot and i learn new things

  21. Peter said:

    Hi Victoria!

    Well, I thought you use them in different circumstances. like ICHI/SHO, SHI/YON, SHICHI/NANA..
    In our DOJO we use this system:

    ICHI/IPPON, NI/NIHON, SAN/SANBON, SHI/YONHON, GO/GOHON, ROKU/ROPPON, SHICHI/NANAHON, HACHI/HAPPON, KU/KYUHON, JU/JUPPON

    So we say SHICHI when counting but NANAHONME for No. 7 :)
    But I’ve seen other versions over the internet too..

  22. Nawaraj Maskey said:

    This will really help me in the future.
    Thakns.

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    Please continue this great work and I look forward to more of your awesome blog posts.

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